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Friday, July 14, 2017

JCPA has a good article about the slum that Israel razed right after the Six Day War in order to create a plaza for worshipers.

Aerial photo of Jerusalem’s Mughrabi quarter taken by the Graf Zeppelin, 1931. Yellow outline (added) shows the Western Wall prayer area. Note the labyrinth Jewish worshippers had to traverse to get to the small alleyway for prayer at the Western Wall. (Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen)1
Articles published by Reuters and the New Yorker on June 6, 2017, and June 9, 2017, respectively, described the demolition of the Mughrabi, or Moroccan, Quarter of Jerusalem and the eviction of the approximately 650 Arab inhabitants which took place on June 10, 1967, three days after Jerusalem’s reunification.
...These articles blame Israel for the demise of the Mughrabi Quarter when, in reality, there is evidence showing that, prior to the 1967 war and before Israel’s taking control of east Jerusalem, the neighborhood’s days were numbered. Together with the adjacent Jewish Quarter, which had been demolished by the Jordanians, both quarters were nothing more than decaying slums built on rubble. According to Israel’s then-ambassador to the UN, Yosef Tekoah, the Mughrabi Quarter was decrepit, suffering from conditions which “no modern civilized government or municipal administration would have tolerated.”5 Reuters itself describes it as “ramshackle.”


During the 1948-1967 period, Jewish access to the shrine was totally banned; but the pre-1948 situation was hardly tolerable for Jewish worshippers. After navigating through a labyrinth of potentially dangerous, narrow alleyways, Jews wishing to pray at the Wall found themselves in a cramped area of approximately 120 square meters.15 (In contrast, the Al Aqsa complex on the Temple Mount covers 144,000 square meters.) Visitors in the pre-1948 era encountered broken stones, sewage, animals (and the refuse they left behind), and Mughrabi Quarter residents who “had a tendency to harass Jewish worshipers.”16
Immediately after the 1967 war, Jerusalem’s Mayor Teddy Kollek saw that the area near the Western Wall could not contain the tens of thousands of visitors expected for the June 13, 1967, Shavuot holiday. Kollek and military officers gave the order to demolish the area.17 The “first job was to demolish a toilet that was built up against the Western Wall,” according to Haaretz. “You come to a place like this, and you see a stench in the wall,” one worker reported. “We were surprised by it.”18
From a legal standpoint, the demolition of the Mughrabi Quarter and relocation of its inhabitants was justified and necessary by any acceptable standard to ensure public safety and security and to provide tens of thousands of worshippers with a safe, sanitary passage to Judaism’s most holy site, and sufficient public space to worship there.




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